Over the past year, I’ve learned that the word edit is complex. It’s a verb and noun, a punishment and a blessing. It refers to major overhauls and precise tinkering. But when you send your work to a CP or editors, there are two general types of editing you can ask for:
Developmental edit: Following the completion of a rough draft or second draft, a new set of eyes to read over the work and look for big issues like plot holes, pacing, characterization issues, and story flow is very helpful. This will give you an opportunity to get feedback on the basic story line. The real meat and potatoes of your writing.
Line edit: This edit should come much later… after you’ve addressed the flagged sections by either rewriting or deleting them. The focus here is on the grammar and mechanics of your work. After you’ve combed through your work and have polished your p’s and q’s, then ask your critique partner or an editor for a line edit. They can help spot finer issues before sending it out.
The first time I exchanged work with someone, I wanted everything noted. Plot holes, dangling participles… the works. But after experiencing the editing process from a different vantage point, I learned that while we might want all the feedback at once, it should come in stages.
And critiquing someone’s work takes time. Make sure you maximize your partner’s efforts and time by asking for the type of help you really need. If you still have plot issues to hash out, or you’re rewriting a bit of the story line, you aren’t quite ready for a line edit.
Having a critique partner (or several critique partners) is an essential step for writers. They’re your sounding board, your grammar police, your private investigator, and your closest ally. Create a symbiotic relationship that flourishes with time.
When you edit a manuscript with a two-tiered mindset, the process will help you grow as a writer because you’re analyzing the story on different levels. And learning is part of the journey.